A divorce is often emotionally traumatic and a costly legal battle. However, there are alternatives to litigation, including mediation and collaborative law. Mediation allows couples to resolve their divorce issues in a non-confrontational setting and usually results in a more favorable outcome for both parties. Additionally, divorce mediation is usually significantly cheaper than litigation and less stressful for everyone involved.
In a typical mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party called a mediator. The mediator acts as a facilitator, guiding the couple through a series of meetings in which each side presents their position on the divorce issues. During the sessions, each party is encouraged to discuss issues openly with the other and to find areas of mutual interest.
The first meeting is generally an overview session where the couple and the mediator identify what needs to be addressed. The mediator will then plan the order of meetings and determine what information will be needed, including financial data and, if necessary, the opinions of experts such as appraisers or accountants. During the meetings, the mediator will help you brainstorm solutions and encourage compromise in order to reach an agreement.
During the sessions, you and your spouse can be assisted by lawyers (or “advocates”) if you so desire. You may also bring other professionals, such as child psychologists, to participate in the sessions if you and your spouse agree. In addition, children are permitted to attend mediation sessions if both parties agree.
While the benefits of divorce mediation are numerous, it is not a suitable option for every situation. For example, if your spouse has a history of domestic violence or is engaging in drug/alcohol abuse, he or she will probably not be able to participate in the mediation process without the assistance of a divorce lawyer in Miami. Additionally, it is important that the mediator be a neutral person and not an advocate for either spouse, or else the process will fail.
Mediation is also not appropriate for couples who have children. While children are typically a source of strength in marriages, they are often the center of conflict during a divorce. In a litigated divorce, the conflict can be emotionally harmful to the children and may even lead to trauma. In mediation, the couple works together to create a custody and parenting plan that is best for them and their children.
Mediation is also a more dignified process than litigation, as the parties are treated with respect and dignity instead of being “case files” or “docket numbers.” While a mediated divorce can be abused by people who seek to delay proceedings or avoid paying support, it offers a more compassionate, less adversarial process that can benefit both parties and the children. Additionally, all communications and documents related to the mediation remain confidential, unlike in a litigated divorce where anything submitted to the court becomes public record.